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Heads Up! Spacegerms!
Yellow globs of bacteria thrive in petri dish.  Will the tiny residents in this petri dish go where no earthling has gone before? That’s NASA’s hope. The bacteria shown here, Deinococcus radiodurans (also known as D. rad), can survive extreme radiation and repair their own DNA in just 48 hours. And so they are excellent candidates for the coveted job of micro-astronaut.

D. rad is an extremophile -- a type of bacteria known for its survival skills under nasty conditions. These bacteria could someday help human space travelers survive on other planets. Researchers recently mapped D. rad’s DNA, gleaning details that may someday aid technologies for medicine, clean water and oxygen in space.

D. rad was discovered by accident in the 1950s when scientists looking for new ways to preserve food could not easily kill the bug.


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